Wednesday, 11 May 2011

I played the AUTISM card

And I feel guilty.

Our City bus service has apparently entered the 21st century.  We have gone from have paper term bus passes with magnetic strips to chipped cards (similar to credit cards) that you have to add money onto, swipe near a card reader as you get on and off, and can keep indefinitely. We have had one for Boy Child for just over a week.

Recently, a Bus Driver took Boy Child’s bus card off him  when he swiped on to the bus on the way to school as it was apparently was invalid.  The driver let him stay on the bus to get to school but then he had no way of getting home.  This is public transport not a school bus service.

So, when I rang the bus company to find out what was going on, I played the Autism card.   I was frustrated and asked why the card which was only used for the first time last week and still should have had $40.00 on it was declared invalid.  I explained that taking the card had meant my autistic child was left with no way home.  Yes, i mentioned that he was autistic at least twice. 

For those who don’t know, Boy Child has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, therefore he has an Autism Spectrum Disorder. I’m finding the fact I played it up hard to deal with.  I feel like a fraud and for that matter a failure as a mother.

Despite any diagnosis he may or may not have;  as a parent or a carer isn’t my responsibility to ensure that he is safe? Surely it is my responsibility to ensure he has a contingency plan in place?  Surely I should have made sure he always had the some money  squirreled away in his bag for the bus?  Have I over estimated his ability to cope with life and change and the challenges or public transport?

The whole bus thing has been actually been very successful.  I’m very proud and impressed that there haven’t been too many hiccups.  But the whole the bus card won’t work and would be removed from his possession was not something I had even contemplated.

On the plus side – Boy Child coped remarkably well. He made a contingency plan (to borrow money off someone) to get home.  Unfortunately he couldn't find that person at the end of the day and then he rang me.  There was some issue with the phones (probably because Girl child wanting to talk to Boy Child and they hung up on each other) so he made 2 phones calls to me and I made 4 phone calls to him before I could get the full story. So on the way to pick him up from school I rang the bus company and that’s where this post started. 

I guess playing the card did make me memorable because wanting for a call back and after speaking to person number 3,  I got ‘Ah, yes the autistic child.’  The thing is Boy Child is not defined by his ASD.  It’s just a part of who he is.  He generally doesn't tell people about his Asperger's.

Did I do him a disservice by declaring his ‘thing’?  Did I set back Boy’s ability to operate in the Neurotypical  (aka ‘normal’) world by labelling him? What would you have done?  Would you have played the card I did?  Would you feel guilty?  Or am I just over thinking the whole thing, as usual?


Madmother said...

Nope - the only thing I would have jumped on would have been the autisitc child comment by the dickhead.

You could plan for "what if" until blue in the face, but the truth is you did not stuff up - they did!

I openly and honestly play the "autism" card. My child has autism. He is amazing, smart compassionate, quirky and has autism. Be loud and proud and educate the bastards!

Suzi said...

I agree with MM, they are a huge company and if they can't get their new card systems together it sure isn't Boy Childs fault! You went through a bit just getting him to cope with the bus system, for all you were to know is this little incident could have put all that right back to square 1. So the Autistic card is quite appropriate to play and you have no need to feel guilty!

boomerang jane said...

The fact that the bus driver took the old bus ticket (with value left on it) and left your son stranded is unacceptable. Autistic child or not. Your concern for your child is only natural & it's good you brought to their attention he had Autism. Because he has a condition that you can't necessarily 'see' is more reason for drivers to be aware of the way they treat people, both young & old.

The same thing happened to my daughter and her friend. Although 14 & 15, he wouldn't let them ride the bus. He left them stranded & I was furious when I found out, especially as my daughter's new card was ordered, but they take up to ten days to arrive!

E. said...

Yay Blogger is back so I can reply.

Thank you everyone!

MM - I was was said more like "Why do I know that name? oh right Autistic child." as opposed to badly if you know what I mean.

Suzi - There have been lots of hiccups with this new system. Lots of student tickets not working etc. Wrong and not information on their webiste too.

Boomerang Jane - Thanks for visiting! I think that the general public do need more education. So I guess using the Autism could help in that respect. I hope the girls were okay.

So far the new card we were expecting on Wednesday is being used by someone else. It appears that school gave us the wrong id number (unless I had two post-its with a 7 digit numbers not in my writing at the same time) and we are still waiting on teh card that were were told would be here on Thursday.


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